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Pete,

I don't understand what you mean about the ends being given. I can make a value-free economic argument that, say, a price ceiling on bread will not put bread on anyone's table. Mises was indeed very clear about how, in that sense, economics is about means and not ends. But as a utilitarian he had clear preferences among ends, namely, he favored pleasure over pain. He called his views "utilitarian" and I don't really see where there's any ambiguity about that label.

Pete,

I see a clear conflict which emerges between the political economy seen in Hayek, Buchanan, North, Ostrom, and the type of utilitarian liberalism that Mises seeks to dervive. When we talk about institutions and rules, those that have emerged from group selection and those consciously designed, we are talking moral philosophy and deontological ethics. Markets function, but only under good rules and institutions. Those institutions are not only about tacit knowledge, but about moral and ethical codes that are sometimes hard to rationalize from a pure utilitarian viewpoint.

I realize that your program seeks to homogenize Mises and Hayek, but I wonder if the program in political economy which Hayek inspired largely veered away from Mises considerably. A lot of these folks mentioned above quote and praise Hayek often, but Mises, not so much.

"But as a utilitarian he had clear preferences among ends, namely, he favored pleasure over pain"

Roger, I'm not sure I can agree if you mean that Mises adheared to an "always pleasure over pain" philosophy for all individuals all the time. He simply wanted to see that a rule brings the greatest possible happiness to most of the individuals most of the time, but not necessarily pleasure over pain in all instances.

But yes, for him, the rule should/must? be able to be defended on the basin of pure a priori rationality, and not blindly adheared to and obeyed almost by faith, as Hayek suggests most individuals must do, if a spontaneous order is to form.

If we all chose to be radical individualists, each one priding himself on being very unique and very different, there would be no coordination, and no way to predict patterns that emerge in knowing how others will behave under various situations. This prediction of others behavior is what allows an ordering of society to even be possible.

The right of every individual to live by a rule that allows pleasure to be chosen over pain in virtually all situations is J.S. Mill and Bentham, but not necessarily Mises (I don't think).

Thanks for the bibliography, I didn't know these books.

I believe that "indifference to ends" is as void a concept as "consequentialism" or "moral relativism", or "libertarian neutrality".

No one is indifferent to ends, and social outcomes are surely not indifferent to ends. No one has ever accepted as a legitimate libertarian end the rape and torture of minorities. If Mises really was indifferent to ends, and he was not, he would have suggested, as a Wertfrei economist, the best means to achieve these ends.

Mises said that given the commonly shared ends of security, liberty and prosperity, peaceful social cooperation was possible, because cooperation provided more prosperity and security than the war of all against all.

As a corollary, if ends had been different, Ricardo's Law of Association might have had no role to play in social cooperation. When the end is to maim and kill, no peace is possible.

Every social theory as a preference over ends. Libertarianism is unique in not imposing collective ends, but it still rejects ends that are incompatible with the negative rights of the individuals.

There cannot be something like value indifference, and the influence over other people's values is as important a goal in the working of society as influencing other people's ideas.

Dear Prof. Boettke,

I strongly disagree with your proposition that Mises was a rule consequentialist. The reason for that is quite straightforward: One of Mises main propositions is that you cannot compare utilities of two people (incomparability axiom).

On the other hand consequentialism as well as utilitarianism needs to have a certain axiology, which can rank the utilies of two persons. For example, if you have two persons A and B, consequentialism tells you to give the good (g) to the persons which would benefit most.
But a necessary condition for knowing who would profit most, is that you are able to compare (at least in theory) the utilies of A and B first. In other words you need to be able to aggregate utility, and that is exactly what Mises time and time dismisses (compare e.g. his constanct criticism towards welfare economy theorists).

I would rather think, that you can make sense of Mises normative standpoint as a quasi-proto-paretian idea. Because that is the only evaluative standard which is compatible with Mises claim that he doesn't want to engange in value judgments.

In my opinion the best two texts on that topic are by P. Gunning. "How to be a value free advocate of Laisses Faire" and "Did Mises Err? Was he an utilitarian?: Reply to Block".
From a philosophical point of view, you could be a little more precise, but he basically gets it right.

I just downloaded your paper on Hazlitt. I haven't read its entirety yet, but so far so good. The attacks against Hazlitt for being a journalist is a stupid ad hominem attack. He was more read than any economist at the time and since then. The other attacks about his "interpretation" of Keynes seem a bit unfair when those leveling the attacks are the ones "interpreting" Keynes.

BTW what was the error Hazlitt discovered after the fact in his first journalism role?

SDG,

Related to dividends.

Pete

Thanks. Is that in his autobiography? I'm a fan of Hazlett, even if he worked more to preserve the Marginal Revolution rather than add new ideas. His book Thinking as a Science is a must-read, even if his grammar was of a 19 year old inexperienced writer.

There is a long tradition of economic journalists advancing economic understanding. Bagehot comes to mind. In his time, Bob Bartley, and still George Melloan. Hazlitt was one of the greats.

The reason I use the words "rule consequentialist" to decribe Mises's social philosophy is to banish the use of the word "utilitarian" from descriptions of Mises's views. It is true that he often wrote approvingly of utilitarianism especially in comparison with natural law theories (of which he was only familiar with a subset and did not like those), but Mises was no Bentham. He did not believe in the cardinal measurement of utility or in interpersonal comparisons of utility. But he did believe that the market would lead to consequences that the overwhelming majority of people would consider good. In fact he believed that even socialists wanted the results of the market but that they were too ignorant of economics to see that their own schemes would not produce wealth.

Pete is exactly right to cite Mises's stress on the importance of the Ricardian Law of Association. Precisely because we cannot interpersonally compare utility and because government should not be choosing people's ends, it is important to have a system that allows people to attain the satisfaction of their own ends by cooperating with others in the pursuit of *their* ends. The system as a whole is neutral among ends.

Mises says in Socialism that those actions (policies) that promote social cooperation are moral while those that detract from it are immoral. Interestingly, this is almost a direct quotation from Samuel Pufendorf who is generally classified as a natural law theorist.

Roger: Mises did not favor pleasure over pain if you mean these terms in a hedonic sense. He was aware that people have and could legitimately have a wide variety of ends -- some of which might require the endurance of pain for some cause, principle or whatever. Nothing in Mises hinges on Bentham's pleasure-pain analysis. Mises often uses the term utiliarian imprecisely.

Dear Prof. Rizzio,

I think that what you say about Mises is correct, but nevertheless "rule consequentialism" has a distinct meaning in ethics. It means you should do whatever is likely (as a rule of thumb) to maximize utilty (preferences, average utility or whatever you axiology says is valueble).
From a rule consequentialistic point of view, you are not allowed to spend money for pleasure, but instead are obliged to invest it (save it). Think of how illiberal that would be!

In my opinion, Mises is more related to some brand of contractualism, because he thinks, that all people would agree to market rules, if they were not plagued by wrong instrumental beliefs, even socialists. Mises main aim - we should never forget - is to root out false instrumental beliefs.

This conversation got me to look again at what Mises says on these topics. It looks like I may have been imputing to Mises a more coherent position than he really adopted. In Liberalism we can see the Mises I was thinking of. There he says that liberalism aims at improving material conditions only because “a conviction that what is highest and deepest in man cannot be touched by any outward regulation.” He explicitly recognizes that asceticism has no use for liberalism. “But once one rejects the principle of the ascetic conduct of life, one can no longer reproach liberalism for aiming at outer well-being.” He says, “All that social policy can do is to remove the out causes of pain and suffering; it can further a system that feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, and houses the homeless. Happiness and contentment do not depend on food, clothing, and shelter, but, above all, on what a man cherishes within himself.” He says, “It is precisely want and misery that liberalism seeks to abolish.” All of this discussion seems to recognize that liberalism does require some judgment of value the effect that material well-being is good, while “want and misery” are bad. So far so good.

But then we read in Epistemological problems that “the concepts of pleasure and pain contain no reference to the content of what is aimed at.” In Theory and History the section "The Utilitarian Doctrine Restated" included the sentence, "Neither does it [utilitarianism] indulge in judgments of value." So now he seems to have a value-free ethical theory! These (to me) odd remarks support Pete’s statement that "the ends pursued are treated as given" in Mises' version of utilitarianism.

The seemingly value-free Mises of Theory and History is a real puzzle to me. If you don't make *any* value judgment about what sorts of outcomes are better, then how can you know that social life is better than autarky? That life is better than death? How can you make any claim about what policies are better or what personal choices are better? I am I missing something here?

i meant in his book Thinking as a Science, his writing wasn't as good as in later times, but his intelligence was certainly there, and an entertaining read; as well as his genius for saying in one clear sentence what others take at least a page to express. It's no wonder he was a close acquaintance with H.L. Mencken.

I felt like my statement above was dissing the entire span of his writing career. I wasn't. As far as most journalistic writing goes, Hazlitt at 19 was still far superior than others at 40. It could also be he was writing just to write and didn't edit his work, or have others edit it, to the extent as with his later books.

As I said a couple of years back on this blog, "value-free economics is worthless economics". It's the same kind of philosophy that tells us that good physical scientists should approach their research with stone cold, detached objectivity. Although I was indoctrinated into this philosophy of science, I was convinced by reading Michael Polanyi that this is wrong and makes for worthless science that nobody reads or cares about. I'm afraid that is where praxeology takes us. Yawn, sigh, who cares.

But I'm with you Roger. Mises tries to live in two worlds at the same time. But I do think Mises was an excellent economist, just a bad philosopher. I really suspect this is how Hayek felt too (at least privately), and always had too much respect for his mentor to take Mises to task directly.

I wonder if we have the same idea of "value-free economics" means, K. You study economics because you want to see the world improve. In this sense, economics is a value *motivated* enterprise. And of course the agents in our models have values and we take that into account. In this sense economics is value *referring*. But when I say that price controls will not generally do what their advocates say, I am not *expressing* a value judgment. I'm just saying it won't go the way you think. I think that's all Mises or Weber mean by "value-free" social science. When Trotsky said something like "The average man will rise to the level of a Goethe," he was engaged in value-free social science. I think a lot of people who deny or disparage value-free economics just attach a different meaning to the term than did Mises or Weber.


It's true that you will find scattered references to utilitarianism in Mises work, especially in his work prior to human action.

My suggestion is to understand Mises social philosophy trough his second book "Nation, State and Economy". In this book Mises tells us how the multi-ethnic empire of Austria was in constant disquiet because every ethnic group was competing for favours of the government. He tells us how the simple construction of a post-office led to fights between ethnic-groups. In todays terms you would say that Mises says that politics thus inevitable leads to a prioner's dilemma. Because if A is seeking priveleges, B is forced to take political actions too.

In my view, Mises extends Locke's idea that we can all gain from peace and toleration. And that if someone starts to look for priveleges we will ultimately have an arms race, which will be worse for everybody. So the normative idea, behind Mises value-free-praxeology is to show, that everybody will benefit of laissez-faire and toleration. (Note: that Mises constantly reminds us, that property rights are necessary for religious freedoms and freedom of consciousness.)

Mises thus thinks, that if we were all good praxeologists, we would all agree on the rule of law on consequentialist grounds. But agreeing on the rule of law on consequentialist grounds is not the same as being a rule consequentialist(!!).

Note for instance, that the people in Rawls original position also agree on a certain set of rules on broadly consequentialst grounds. But Rawls is not a rule consequentialist, but a contractarian.

One of the major differences is for instance, that rule consequentialism applies to every area of morality, while contractualism groundes in consequentialism covers only the realm of what we owe to one another.

[If you want, I would gladly expand on what's the difference on grounding the constitution on consequentalistic grounds and being a rule consequentialist.]

"scattered references"!?

When dealing with the human animal, let's just make that - DNA, it will 99.99% of the time ONLY be...jungle or zoo.

SOGS,
Tor

I think that Mises is arguing that, whatever your values, whatever your goals, the value-free science of praxeology will tell you how to get there. It may be your goal to help the poor; it may be my goal to make a lot of money. Praxeology can tell each of us how to achieve each of our goals and realize each of our values. It turns out that the same system of rules -- the free market -- can help us both achieve our goals without either of us impinging on the other's. I think this is what Mises is getting at.

Yes, Troy. The question is what are his ethics? He says he is a utilitarian, but then says utilitarianism makes no value judgments. How can I have an ethical theory (as opposed to a theoretical account of ethics) that makes no value judgments? Mises was a smart guy, but sure doesn't seem like he's makin' sense here.

As to the issue of value judgments: As I understand Mises, the specific content of a person's goals, within a system of property rights and contract, is of no concern to the economist or social scientist. It is obviously a concern to the individual himself. And Mises sometimes explicitly recognizes that true happiness stems from within, etc. Nevertheless, since the correct balance of all the goods in the world is specific to each individual's circumstances, the social system's coercive apparatus should stay neutral.

So there is indeed a meta value-judgment to the effect that it is valuable to let individuals pursue their own search for meaning or "happiness" and let them make their own mistakes and corrections, without coercive interference.

Thus: value-freedom and a social value together with no contradiction.

For what it's worth...here's my own critique of Mises... http://pragmatarianism.blogspot.com/2011/11/third-solution-pragmatarianism.html

...which is exactly the same as Milton Friedman's critique of Mises...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bibfslEFk2s

Can you guys do a me a favor? Ever heard of a flash mob? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_mob It's where a bunch of people coordinate with each other to show up at the same public location (like a train station) and then start synchronized dancing at the same exact time. No no no...I don't want to see you guys dance. Well...

Actually, I want you guys to do an Austrian mob! Here's a political debate forum that I participate in... http://www.debatepolitics.com/economics/123174-teaching-economics-liberals-class-session.html
Why not sign up and post some economic topics for discussion? It's free to do and it only takes a few seconds to copy and paste things you've already written.

If Jesus wasn't above mingling and sharing his message with prostitutes and tax collectors...then we shouldn't be above mingling and sharing our message with non PhDs.

So...it would be all kinds of great if all ya all could create blog entries to encourage your readers to Austrian mob the economics category of the debate politics forum... http://www.debatepolitics.com/economics/

Why not?

Hello,

I'm studying the Hazlitt's case against the "multiplier concept" he set up in The Failure of the New Economics, chapter 11, p 139.

Hazlitt just explains Keynes mixed up a mathematical relationship with a causal one. He wrote :

"If investment is one-tenth of income, income will be ten times investment, etc. Then, by some wild leap, this “functional” and purely formal or terminological relationship is confused with a causal relationship. Next, the causal relationship is stood on its head and the amazing conclusion emerges that the greater the proportion of income spent, and the smaller the fraction that represents investment, the more this investment must “multiply” itself to create the total income!"

I think his refutation is the best one, and I'm very astonished when I see how few good economists use it.

May you tell me if you know some other economists who refute the "multiplier" concept in the same way ?

I don't undestand why some many economists resort to empirical studies or to the "private investment eviction" argument while such an corrosive and easy refutation is available.

I did a quick survey of the "Anti-Keynes collection" published by the Mises Institute.

The only author who approches Hazlitt is Etienne Mantoux, who wrote in a very concise way :

"It is altogether reasonable to use a term such as the “multiplier” to express a fact patent to everyone; one may go on to regard the proportion of income devoted to consumption as an independent function; lastly, it is quite permissible to make a certain function, called the “multiplier,” depend by definition on a certain variable called the “propensity to consume.” It is another matter to turn this formal relationship into a causal relationship.27 The entire demonstration, it would seem, nevertheless rests on this function.”, with this footnote : “See the penetrating criticism by G. v. Haberler, Zeitschrift fiir Nationalokonomie, vol. VII, no. 3, August 1936.»

Thank you in advance!

Thanks for that, Mario. I confess, I'm still feeling a bit confused about Mises. Personally, I think you need to add at least one value judgment to get from value-free economic theory to policy preferences. I don't think that's a controversial opinion. Nor do I think much is required in the way of value judgments to resolve many basic policy issues. Basically, economics + beneficence = liberalism. But I'm still feeling fuzzy about what Mises' position(s) might have been. I'm don't think I understand "value-freedom and a social value together with no contradiction." Maybe I'm being dull or just need to reflect on it a bit more.

@Roger,

Rothbard criticized Mises along the lines that you and Mario have developed. It's the old problem of getting from is to ought.

I can cite two passages in Human Action in which Mises first affirms and then denies natural law. The charitable interpretation is that he accepts positive natural law theorizing, but denies its normative content. I think natural law theorists would say that Mises therby misunderstood natural law.

Roger,

Thanks. Indeed we have the same definition of value free economics. But my point is a play on words. It is still hard to see that economics has any applied worth outside a grounding in a system of ethics, especially when we get into political economy. And likewise I am almost certain that it is the value judgements that are already formed which motivate which economic problems might be studied using the tools of economics.

Now I'm with you, K.

I think I'm with Roger as well, that is, confused about the tensions and inconsistencies in von Mises. Like the tension between the 'critical rationalism" we find on page 68 of Human Action where he talks about no certainty, just subjecting our ideas to criticism, and the apparent dogmatism of strong apriorism. And his idea that positivism/empiricism works just fine in the natural sciences.

Presumably he followed his friend and colleague Weber in adopting a value-free attitude towards economics as a science (positive economics in modern parlance) and a personal commitment to values as a responisible citizen. However it seems that he struggled with the justification of moral positions, as indeed we all do, given that there is no way to achieve the kind of justification that we would like.

Great point about justification, Rafe. Thanks for that.

K Sralla - just to say that I've enjoyed immensely your contributions to this thread as well as the previous one on ethics and liberty.

May I recommend the three volumes of speeches by Keng Swee Goh (economic architect of Singapore) - "Practice of Economic Growth", "Economics of Modernization", and "Wealth of East Asian Nations". The books have been out of publication, but libraries might carry them.

He once lamented the trend of modern economists becoming more and more learned about less and less.

Some excerpts:

1. The Role of Money
http://stars.nhb.gov.sg/stars/public/starsDetail.jsp?&chkDVD_id=22423&keyword=goh

2. Moral Order and Economic Progress
http://stars.nhb.gov.sg/stars/public/starsDetail.jsp?&chkDVD_id=29740&keyword=goh

3. Some Delusions about the Decade of Development
http://stars.nhb.gov.sg/stars/public/starsDetail.jsp?&chkDVD_id=23412&keyword=goh

Rafe,

One gets the impression sometimes that Mises wrote without revising. He often has mixed-up versions of ideas and is inconsistent within the confines of his own large books. He also did not carefully examine ideas with which, prima facie, he diasagreed. All this makes interpreting him difficult on some fundamental issues.

I don't understand what you mean about the ends being given. I can make a value-free economic argument that, say, a price ceiling on bread will not put bread on anyone's table. Mises was indeed very clear about how, in that sense, economics is about means and not ends. But as a utilitarian he had clear preferences among ends, namely, he favored pleasure over pain. He called his views "utilitarian" and I don't really see where there's any ambiguity about that label.1

Mises did not favor pleasure over pain if you mean these terms in their hedonic sense. Mises uses the term utilitarian in a much broader sense than Bentham. This wide use of the term, utilitarian is not unusual in non-philosophical circles, though it is imprecise.

If we define value as relative worth, merit, or importance, and ethics as the rules or standards governing the conduct of a person, then values and ethics are not clearly connected at all. Values are not ethics or morals.

A person can place a very high value on sex and yet believe it immoral to have sex outside of marriage. Those are two quite different things.

One can value one set of morals over another (this gets one to Haidt's distinctions, I think).

I think the confusion with Mises stems from confusing values with ethics and morals.

Baragl
"I think his refutation is the best one, and I'm very astonished when I see how few good economists use it."

You don't understand. Hazlitt is an economic journalist, not an economist. The argument you cited is the best journalistic refutation, which is not "peer reviewed" by the Keynesian professors. So forget about it.

Troy, this is correct as far as it goes. But Mises is not confused. He understood this. To say that one believes that one values something even though one believes it is immoral is meaningless. One's value-scale has meaning only insofar as one acts upon. Then the value one puts on having sex is reflected by what (how much) one is willing to trade for it. If you think it is very immoral, then, in spite of your physical desire, you will not trade - so you value it at zero. The value people put upon something (nutrition, love, honesty, sex, moves, ... ) depends on many things. They are all value-judsgement.

[fixed the typos] Troy, this is correct as far as it goes. But Mises is not confused. He understood this. To say that one values something even though one believes it is immoral is meaningless. One's value-scale has meaning only insofar as one acts upon it. Then the value one puts on having sex is reflected by what (how much) one is willing to trade for it. If you think it is very immoral, then, in spite of your physical desire, you will not trade - so you value it at zero. The value people put upon something (nutrition, love, honesty, sex, movies, ... ) depends on many things. They are all value-judsgements.

Thanks Lee, the citation Mises 1966 (third revesid edition of HA) is ok but the reference itself fell out of the list at the end (now corrected) also there was a minor mistake in the quote, an as got written is which did not change the sense but that is fixed as well. These details are a nightmare which is why it takes so long to get from a good first draft to the final product that is ready to send to a journal. And that is before the referees start on it.Many authors list up to 20 or 30 helpers who have read drafts more or less helpfully and they tend to pick up some of these things.The two logicians who were critical of Parsons have fallen out of the reference list as well, I will fix that later in the day.

Ludwig von Mises in 1920, fully seventy years beorfe the rest of the world was to become convinced. "There will be hundreds and thousands of factories in operation. Very few of these will be producing wares ready for use; in the majority of cases what will be manufactured will be unfinished goods and production goods… Every good will go through a whole series of stages beorfe it is ready for use. In the ceaseless toil and moil of this process, however, the administration will be without any means of testing their bearings."And now, , "From my life and study in Moscow, I can attest to the truth of this prediction. In an economy, nearly every consumption good requires several stages of production. The more natural resources used and the more complex the technology involved, the more stages of production are required. Yet lacking an ability to see a production process through to ends that consumers desire, Soviet socialism produced only military hardware, useless goods, goods to make other goods, while consumers were deprived of bare essentials."You see now the sort of "predictions" which Mises is talking about?Far from being bullshit, his concept is tremendously powerful, and itself allows us to foresee the disastrous future consequences of an inflationary boom -- but not to three significant figures.

matt b, you're right, the answer might be a bit more ciomlpcated and differ per country.A guarantee doesn't cost anything, so we can leave those out.The US raised the money by going into debt, but I suppose you knew that (government bonds).But you're probably after bank bail outs in the EU, which I think is a more critical story. Would you believe it how hard it is to find the numbers here?Here's how I believe it works. The governments there are not giving money to existing shareholders, instead the banks just print more shares, diluting existing shares, and give those to the governments.The governments act as guarantee. So at this stage no money has actually changed hands. Of course the banks can use this money at which time the government actually has to put up.For the Netherlands I have some numbers: they raise the money on the market against 4% interest (it's nice being a triple A). But given above, I doubt they actually have raised that money yet. So like the US they will increase debt.But it's a very interesting question actually, so hopefully readers here have more to contribute.

hi aa, I don't think you can become rich by intesving in gold :-)It's more a safety net: keep what you've got. It doesn't do a lot else. In 2004 there were predictions that gold would reach above 1000 USD an ounce, which clearly hasn't happened (discounting jumps, they're irrelevant, and only intesting for speculators).If you've got a billion, it's probably not wise even to invest 25% in gold. But for the common folk, you can either invest in gold stocks or just the physical stuff.A convenient method is the Perth Mint Certificate Program. I think the minimum is just about 5,000 or so. All their liabilities are covered with real stuff.Really nobody knows where this is gonna end. The bankers + journos are now claiming, that yes, stocks are crashing, but that's just because fear about the real economy, we saved the banks. They make it up as they go.If a lot of banks are insolvent, which is what some claim, we haven't seen the end yet.

Matt B: I must confess I've seen very litlte that even addresses where the money is coming from -- indicating that even to most business journalists the question is unimportant.However, the point would be that to the extent the bailouts strengthen the asset base of banks, to that extent the banks are allowed to issue many times that increased bogus "value" in credit. That's inflation right there in the sense that I'm meaning it: ie., inflation of the money supply, with all the destructive consequences we're now living with.And to the extent that the bailout money is paid for by borrowing from the pool of real savings, or by taxing from real profits, it takes real resources away from businessmen and companies able to effect real productivity, which is what is so desperately needed.If you find anything there "suspicious," I an only imagine it's because you view of the money supply to "fix" falling prices and its consequent creation of destructive differently than I do.

matt b, just found this, it's not about how this will lead to inflation, but how :When Governments spend vast sums of money to shore up the bnnikag system, you just know that it would be all too convenient for it to let inflation erode the national debt incurred in the process. Even before these gigantic expenditures, Britain's true level of national debt, according to the economist Liam Halligan – the Government won't give the real figure including off-balance sheet liabilities – is over a31,300bn. This is equivalent to a350,000 per household. Perhaps Gordon Brown might call it "imprudence with a purpose" – he dumped Prudence some time ago, although he kept on telling everyone that they were still an item.

I disagree this is some sort of 'one day wonedr', especially with regards to our neck of the woods - the ASX and NZX.I predicted, on October 3rd, the market would bottom out at around 4000 points and that indeed happened...(albeit somewhat more quickly than I had expected)The NZ and Australian economies are fundamentally sound so it is difficult to see how any company listed on either exchange is now 'overvalued'...(offhand I cannot think of one)...a different situation to, say, six months ago.I would consider most non-financial Australian stocks to be a 'buy' at their current prices...certainly not overvalued assets any longer.

Thanks Berend for the advice on bunyig gold. It would be interesting to analyse how an investor would have fared just prior to the depression of the thirties if he converted half his shares into gold, lost his shares, then cashed up the gold in 1945.It seems that gold has its risks though. Do you buy actual gold bars and keep them in a safe deposit box or just buy bits of paper that say you own gold? I seem to remember a lot of people losing everything in the Gold Corp debacle back in the eighties.

This is a fitting arictle prepping the West for an Iron Curtain pull-down. Yes, the free market has been destroyed. Replacing it is state-warship, with all it's regulatory priesthood, and they have stamped out the pagan religion of free marketism. Now it's time for some more top down, government, command-and-control, global communism! Free-market pockets of the West will come around with forced state reeducation! Oh, wait, that's already happened . Hint: Americans still sporting Obama stickers en masse..Nice arictle further destroying the confidence of humans reaching their full potential. I'd like to start an organic dairy farm here in California, but the government price fixing of milk and pointless regulatory rats-nest prevents me from doing so. Viva the State! Instead of organic artisan cheeses (deemed unsafe for any artisan to prepare) I can shovel maneure for Monsanto Dairy (Monsanto is the agricultural arm of the US Federal Government for anyone not paying attention) To hell with silly free small business hogwash!!

There are dual degree prramgos that exist, but you aren't telling what area you would want to get that Ph.D program in.Many MBA prramgos in the USA can be completed in two years. There may be a few that can be completed in 12 or 18 months, and there are certainly many that take more than two years.Unless you are some kind of prodigy, I wouldn't expect you to be able to complete a legitimate, accredited PhD program of any kind that is available in the USA in two years, and certainly not in conjunction with an MBA. In the UK, there are doctoral prramgos that are based solely on research, and if you are a prodigy of some kind, it is conceivable that you could complete a PhD in two years in one of those research-based prramgos.Tell us what you want that PhD to be in, and we will be able to give you better answers.

Actually under Americans fiat dollar FED Communists sstyem your chips can be gone while they are still in your pocket. The Government just destroys it's value. And what Communist sstyem is honest? What models are you Libs using? the market has been getting less and less free by the decade in the US and the Country is getting worse and worse. Yet we have people bashing a free market. What government authority do you propose we come up with to make prosperity-through-market-authoritarianism? You're the freedom basher? Who presides then? Not the pople, the plummers, the small business owners offering valuable products and services. Surely they cannot control their own lives and businesses. Who shall??

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